Ariana Tikao is a singer and composer of Kāi Tahu descent. Although now living in Wellington, her music in inspired and influenced by her Māori ancestry and the dramatic landscape of Te Waipounamu. She began writing waiata in the Kāi Tahu dialect while studying at Otago University in the early ‘90s and started performing in 1993 with the folk group, ‘Pounamu’.

Ariana started her solo music career in the early 2000s and has become well known for both her engaging live performances and critically acclaimed recordings. She has released three solo and two collaborative albums and several music videos, one of which (for her waiata ‘Tuia’) won an international award at the imagiNATIVE film + media festival in Toronto in 2009. She is also a member of the Christchurch-based Māori-Celtic themed folk group, ‘Emeralds and Greenstone’.

Nearly a decade ago, Ariana began playing taoka puoro (Māori instruments). She has been mentored and supported by Richard Nunns and Brian Flintoff, two of New Zealand’s foremost leaders in the revival of these remarkable instruments. In March of this year, Ariana performed with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra for Kenneth Young’s composition In Paradisum where she played koauau and sang. Her current projects include the launch of a new group, ‘ARA’, which is primarily based on taoka puoro, with Alistair Fraser and Rob Thorne. They plan to release an EP in 2015.

“Haunting and intelligent. Tikao’s music is definitely a treat”

“A magical and at times mystical trip… like being bundled up in a big feather cloak and transported to another world”